A trip and story more than six decades in the making took off recently when Honor Flight Chicago flew sixty-five World War II veterans from Chicago to Washington, DC, to visit and reflect at their war memorial.
| Ever since his return from naval duty following World War II, Stanley Zabinski has lived with his wife Jane on Chicago’s South Side, with little recognition or thanks for his courage and service to his country. But on September 17, Stanley and 64 other World War vets gathered at 4am at Chicago’s Midway Airport to board Southwest flight 736 to Washington, DC, for a day of remembrance documented in a new short film narrated by actor Gary Sinise and accompanied by the Jay Farrar song “Make It Alright.” The 11-minute documentary and corresponding PSAs, nominated for a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award, were created by Sticky and i^3 and produced by Kohr Communications. Additional production was provided by Kimberly Grear. Talent negotiation was provided by Chalcea Park. Special thanks go to Mary Pettinato, Jean Marie Kapp and the countless volunteers of Honor Flight Chicago for their selfless dedication, and for sharing the story and experience. Special moments from the 18-hour journey include an Andrews Sisters medley performed by Tres Bella (now Legacy Girls), a greeting at the memorial by Senator Bob Dole, a tribute to a fallen comrade, letters from family and school children given to the vets on the return flight, and a welcome home provided by a full honor guard, marching band and 400 cheering greeters. The honorees were emotionally moved by the day’s tribute, and have since written their own letters of gratitude. “Although your staff never looked for thanks, but rather gave it,” wrote a veteran named Nicholas, “I wish to thank you all for an unforgettable day, which I shall never forget till the day I leave this earth.” Vernon, another veteran, wrote, “Ever so often God assigns celestial attendants from heaven to perform some of his duties on His behalf. The Honor Flight staff of people fulfilled His desire to compliment World War II veterans.” The day was made possible by Honor Flight Chicago, a non-profit organization begun in 2007 to honor and thank Chicago-area veterans by flying them for free to reflect at the World War II Memorial. The organization sponsored seven honor flights in 2008. Honor Flight Chicago is part of the Honor Flight Network, founded by president Earl Morse and based in Springfield, Ohio. Each flight costs $35,000, and is made possible only through generous donors, guardians and an army of volunteers. There are more than 300,000 World War II veterans still living in the United States. Unfortunately, over 1,200 veterans pass away each day, making the mission of the organizations all the more urgent. For additional information about Honor Flight Chicago, including how to sign up a veteran, donate or volunteer, contact:
Honor Fight Chicago